What’s it like to write a book with your wife? I wanted to find out the answer to this question under extreme scientific conditions. I put on my labcoat and got to work.
First let me tell you something. When Hay House first called me and asked me if I had any book ideas in mind I made a joke. I said, “How about we do ‘The Power of Now’ but without that annoying ‘w’ at the end? ”
The Power of Now was a book by Eckhart Tolle that sold six million copies. My argument was that because of my math expertise we should do at least 12/13 as well as his book did if we just take off one letter.
We even dedicated the book to him. For no other reason than we stole 12 letters from his title.
Patty Gift, to her credit, laughed at the joke. But then I was thinking, I not only have a 1000 stories for this book, it would even be a sequel to “Choose Yourself!” since the only way you can choose yourself is to say “NO!” to all the people who want to trap you in their own agendas.
And then I had another brilliant (well, we’ll see) idea. ” Claudia Azula Altucher will be the co-author.” She had a lot of stories also. Including one story that is the only piece of writing to ever make me cry (except, of course, for the novelization of the movie, E.T.”)!
The way you write a book is to come up with a title that you have utterly failed at through most of your life. You don’t really get good at something until you understand all the reasons why you perpetually fail at it.
As a perfect example, would you buy the book, “How to Pick Up Girls” from Brad Pitt or from me? My assumption is he has zero experience about how difficult it is to meet people.
I had a hard time for most of my life “choosing myself” and it was only when I finally realized this that everything in my life completely changed.
And I’ve always had a hard time saying “No”. Maybe only in the past few years I really learned to say “No” and, at least for me, it’s resulted in amazing benefits. Saying “no” has finally saved my life.
But this post isn’t about the book, it’s about how to avoid getting a divorce.
We started writing it and exchanging chapters for the other to edit. One time she came downstairs and I can tell by the thump on the staircase that she was a little upset. “Did you even read what you wrote?” was the first thing out of her demon mouth in that ACCENT.
“Ok,” I said. “Time to go to Plan B.”
We went on a two week silent retreat.
In other words, we couldn’t talk to each other. Our rooms were next to each other but the whole place was silent. No talking!
And it was great. It was like writer heaven. I’d read for a few hours every morning. And then I was writing 4000, 5000, even 9000 at my best, words a day. She was writing also.
After a week we were so excited about what we were doing we couldn’t help whispering to each other. Then our whispers graduated into active discussions at the Silent Table.
So much so that someone came up to us and said, “SHHH!” and pointed to the sign at the table: “SILENT TABLE”
I haven’t been shushed since I was six years old. Some children sadly have to grow up in orphanages in Afghanistan (yes, I just finished “The Kite Runner”. Excellent novel) and I got shushed. And now, I just got shushed again.
Claudia and I decided to pack up and leave and we finished the rest of the book at home. And then 20 rewrites later we handed it in and then another few rewrites after that and with the blessing of the publisher, we finished the book.
First off, this is not the whole story. I left parts out because Claudia and I did an hour long podcast about working together and about the book and some of the painful stories she shared in the book.
You can download the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher (Android) at “The James Altucher Show” or I think this link works.
The podcast talks about why we did it, how it happened, how we avoided divorce, and The Power of NO! I hope you listen to it.
Some people already pre-ordered the book. We decided to make some gifts for anyone who pre-orders the book. Because we don’t want to be liars about it, the gifts unfortunately go away after the book comes out on July 15.
Here you can see the three gifts.
The first gift is an entire free book: “The Choose Yourself Stories”, which is sort of like a prequel to “Choose Yourself!” and contains my rawest stories of failure and probably zero redemption.
If you’re a family member or someone who hates me, please don’t read or, if you do read, please don’t send me more emails.
The second two gifts are audio additions to “The Power of No”:
- What to do if someone says “No” to you (how to handle rejection).
- The Opportunity Cost of No. In other words, if you don’t say “No” at the right points, what that can cost you.
I hope you get the free gifts because they are as good as the book itself.
So, for me, here’s the key to writing a book with your wife in such a way that you don’t get divorce.
- Always says “Yes”, first and then offer constructive criticism.
Smile as much as possible. It’s only a book. It’s only a year of a long life. It’s only the second most important thing you’ll ever do. Next to making your wife happy.